“Get out of your head and into your heart. Think less, feel more.” – Osho
I talk to myself all day. I talk to myself during my car ride to work, while at my desk, on my way home, cooking dinner, brushing my teeth and walking my dog. Lately, I have been paying more attention to my inner self-talk. Self-talk is your personal and internal communication. I began to notice that my internal communication was filled with negative thought patterns, further having an impact on my confidence. I found that I was doubting my abilities, questioning my judgment and often telling myself, “I can’t handle this,” or “I can’t do this,” which was unlike the person I thought that I was and very different from the person I want to be! I decided to make an effort to shift my thinking and improve my positive self-talk. I was thinking more than I was feeling and therefore, I was not staying true to myself.
As a mentor, I coached the girls in strong communication skills so they had the power to advocate for themselves and the needs of others. As a social worker, I often work with clients to help them build stronger communication skills with friends, family and themselves. I found that I was not practicing what I was preaching as I neglected to use those same strong communication skills with myself. Communication starts with the inner dialogue that we have with ourselves. It serves as our triggers for action, and our behavior is influenced by our thought patterns. I strongly believe that if we can work to change our thought patterns, we can start to change our actions and empower ourselves through positive self-talk.
One of the easiest ways to start engaging in positive self-talk is through positive affirmations. Positive affirmation statements are used to serve as encouragement or reminder of a desired goal or outcome. It is usually a short and simple statement that can be repeated multiple times in order to replace patterns of negative self-talk. Remember, if we are strong women, we are not afraid to shout out loud. So don’t be afraid to say it aloud to yourself. If I feel myself getting overwhelmed and thinking negatively I will tell myself, “You are present, you are aware and you are powerful” as it keeps me grounded, focused and empowered to move forward confidently. If you are unsure where to start in creating your own positive affirmations, download the Positive Affirmations application for inspiration!
Another great tip is focusing on becoming more optimistic. Being optimistic does not only mean viewing the glass as half full. Being optimistic also means applying the positivity to yourself and believing in yourself. One of my clients once told me that when she is facing a difficult challenge that she is unsure if she will be able to handle, she tells herself that she needs to say that she can do it, know that she can do it and believe that she can do it, “Say it, know it and believe it!” If you find yourself feeling pessimistic or negative about something that is going on in your life, take a moment to recognize the strengths, positives and possible opportunities for growth in order to start changing your thoughts. Changing your thoughts will inherently change the way you handle challenges because you will focus less on the problem and more on the solution.
Finally, be kind to yourself, which means practicing a daily self-care routine. In order to reduce the negative chatter of your inner dialogue, it is critical that you take care of yourself. Do not allow yourself to become exhausted. When people become physically and mentally exhausted, many will internalize their frustrations and fears which contribute to negative self-talk. If you know that you have a busy day ahead of you, be sure to schedule time throughout your day to take a mental and physical break. If you need a treat, do not hesitate to reward yourself.
There are so many tips and strategies to improve your positive self-talk. I hope these three tips offer direction and guidance in your journey of becoming more kind, understanding and forgiving of yourself. Remember, good communication starts by looking at the ways in which we “talk” to ourselves.
How will you improve your self-talk? What is your personal positive affirmation?

Kaitlin was a mentor and Chapter Director with SWSG from 2007-2011 at Simmons College. She is a recent graduate of NYU Silver School of Social Work and is currently living in Connecticut working as a counselor at a substance abuse program for women.